- Jose Fonte hails West Ham United's improved defending in their last three matches
- Portugal defender has helped Hammers keep two clean sheets
- Experienced centre-back praised wing-backs Arthur Masuaku and Edimilson Fernandes
Jose Fonte feels West Ham United are getting things together defensively after keeping clean sheets in two of their last three Premier League matches.
The Hammers beat Swansea City 1-0 and stopped Everton from having a single shot on target in Saturday’s goalless draw at London Stadium, while only two defensive errors led to Sunderland goals in a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light in between.
Fonte started all three matches, first as part of a four-man defence against the Swans, then as one of a back-three against the Black Cats and the Blues, pleasing the Portugal international.
“I’m definitely pleased with the last three games, apart from the goals that we conceded at Sunderland, but those things happen,” the Euro 2016 winner told whufc.com.
“We’ve kept two clean sheets in three games and it’s very positive. It’s where we want to be and what we’ve been working for, so we just need to take that and make that a constant, not a fluke. It has to be the main target to not concede.
“If you don’t concede, you will always have chances to score with the players and quality we have up front. They will always create chances from open play or set pieces, so you’ve got to get the basics right and first we have to defend well as a team. If we do that, we have a great chance to win games.”
It’s very good defensively but you have to find some solutions for the boys up front to have more options and feel more comfortable, and that’s what we’ve been doing
So, how have West Ham tightened things up at the back after conceding 21 goals in their previous nine Premier League matches?
“Defensively, it was for sure our best team performance since I’ve been at the club. We were very solid, which is rewarding and pleasing because I came here and didn’t have the start that I wanted, but finally things are starting to look better, which is good.
“There are still things that we need to improve in terms of maintaining possession and creating chances and being more fluid, but system sometimes takes time to develop.”
Fonte was part of a three-man defence at Southampton at times last season, including when the Saints went six Premier League matches without conceding a goal between 13 January and 13 February 2016.
It is a system he clearly feels at home in, while he also feels West Ham have the personnel to make the most of the two wing-back positions in Arthur Masuaku and the versatile Edimilson Fernandes.
“We went six games without conceding so I am used to the system, I like it, I love it to be honest!” he smiled. “I feel really confident and it is tough to break teams down when they are set up like that.
“But, like I said, it’s very good defensively but you have to find some solutions for the boys up front to have more options and feel more comfortable, and that’s what we’ve been doing.
“The wing-backs were massive [against Everton], did a great job and showed great energy. Masuaku said it was his best game since he’s been here and I’m pleased for him because he’s a good kid and has great potential and hopefully he can keep playing like this.
“That position certainly suits him because of his levels of energy and his attacking ability, so I’m pleased for him.
“Edi, obviously it’s not his natural position but he did a great job and sacrificed himself for the team and we can only say ‘thank you’ because it’s not easy.”
*Jose Fonte looks ahead to facing Stoke City’s Peter Crouch in Part Two of his exclusive whufc.com interview, which you can read on Thursday at 1pm!